12/13/2014 archive

Random Japan

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Wear black – The 20 most memorable anime deaths, as chosen by fans

 Casey Baseel

While the gigantic robots and gratuitous nudity were certainly eye-catching, when I first started watching Japanese animation, one of the things that surprised me the most was the fact that anime characters could, well, die. Sure, American cartoons from Tom and Jerry to G.I. Joe were filled with explosions and gunplay, but while the violence was abundant, injuries were conspicuously absent.

Anime tales, though, have no qualms about knocking off their players. As a matter of fact, characters shake off this mortal coil so frequently that a recent poll ranked the 20 most memorable anime deaths.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Gazette‘s Health and Fitness News weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Pâté from the Sea

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When I lived in France I used to love watching people discover rillettes, a rustic pâté that is traditionally made by cooking pork belly or shoulder slowly in abundant fat, allowing it to cool in the fat, then raking the mixture into a spreadable paste. [..]

Rillettes are also made with other meats – most often game birds or rabbit, and also with fish, particularly fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies and tuna, which are high in omega-3s. The fish isn’t slow-cooked in fat the way meat is, but it is mixed with fat – in France that would be softened butter – and shredded in the same way. The key is a smooth, rich-tasting, spreadable mixture, which is easy to achieve with a number of types of seafood. On my last trip to Paris I saw fish rillettes on menus all over town. They were usually served from crocks or wide canning jars, the way meat rillettes are traditionally stored, to be eaten with bread. But at Buvette, a little restaurant in the 9th Arrondissment (also in New York’s Greenwich Village), a rich mound of smoked trout rillettes topped a warm plate of lentils, to great effect.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Lentils With Smoked Trout Rilletes

A new take on surf and turf, with simply cooked lentils topped with smoked trout.

Endive Leaves With Crab Rillettes

Canned lump crabmeat is transformed in these light, slightly spicy rillettes.

Salmon Rillettes

A light but rich tasting spread made with fresh and smoked salmon.

Mini Peppers Stuffed With Tuna and Olive Rillettes

A Provençal-inspired tuna and olive spread with bold flavors.

Smoked Sardines Rillettes

Canned smoked sardines offer high omega-3 values and work well in this dish.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Howie KleinL Time For The Democrats To Bid Adieu To The Blue Dogs?

The DCC carefully neglected to mention that the most vile provisions were pushed by, among others, the Finance Chair of the DCCC, Wall Street shill Jim Himes (New Dem-CT).

Wednesday afternoon, the DCCC was asking people to sign petitions against “Boehner’s” Wall Street giveaway in the omnibus appropriations bill. They carefully neglected to mention that the most vile provisions are being pushed by, among others, the Finance Chair of the DCCC, Wall Street shill Jim Himes (New Dem-CT) and by most of the Blue Dogs and New Dems left in Congress– including the ones who were defeated and are just hanging around the lame duck looking for K Street jobs. We’ve written about how Himes and his fellow Wall Street shills have been working on this since last year. The House passed it October 30, 2013 292-122, 70 slime bags from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party joining the GOP to vote for it back then, including not just the Blue Dogs and New Dems who always support the Republicans over working families, but House party leaders like Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Joe Crowley (D-NY) and purported “progressives” like Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Grace Meng (D-NY), Gwen Moore (D-WI) and Charlie Rangel (D-NY). [..]

This is the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, the ruin of the great traditions and values of the party and all that ails the party. We write about it often here at DWT. In fact, last Monday we looked at Michael Tomasky’s proposition that the Democratic Party should just forget about The South entirely. Tempting… but… uh, no.

The DCCC thought you wouldn’t notice that Jim Himes, their own Finance Chair, is behind this plan to gut Wall Street reform.

Glen Ford: It’s Not the Law, But Prosecutors, That Give Immunity to Killer Cops

Black Americans know all about “law and order”: the term, itself, is code for the state-wielded hammer that is relentlessly deployed against us. No people on earth are more conditioned to concentrated bludgeoning under “color of law” than African Americans, who account for one out of out eight of the world’s prison inmates. Black males are 21 times more likely than their white peers to be killed by U.S. lawmen, and make up a clear majority of young police shooting victims under the most draconian law and order regime on the planet. Of all the world’s peoples, none have been so unremittingly inculcated with the lessons of crime and punishment – especially punishment, whether merited or not.

For a people so acculturated, justice demands retribution – even for Pharaoh and his army. Thus, the simple and near-universal Black American demand that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder prosecute killer cops.

But, this they will not do.

The Obama administration has no intention of pursuing prosecution of Darren Wilson, or Trayvon Martin’s vigilante killer George Zimmerman, or the whole crew of New York City homicidal and/or depravedly indifferent first-responders in the Eric Garner case. Obama and Holder have nothing worthwhile to say to the nine grieving Black mothers now visiting Washington demanding justice for their murdered loved ones, other than empty assurances that they feel the families’ pain.

Alyona Minkovski: Obama’s Cowardly Response to Torture Revelations

The United States tortures.

That much became undeniably clear this week when the Senate Intelligence Committee released the executive summary (pdf) of it’s report on the CIA’s interrogation and detention program under the Bush administration. [..]

After taking office in 2009 President Obama did ban the use of torture through an executive order, and to this day says that the practice was inconsistent with our values as a nation. But that one stroke of the pen doesn’t match up with the rest of his actions.

The ethos of this administration has been to look forward and not backwards. This has meant letting the architects of the Bush torture regime escape prosecution and any semblance of accountability despite clear violations of international law.

Robert L. Brosage: The Budget Deal: This Is Who They Are

The first signs of the November election returns are apparent in the $1 trillion spending bill that the House of Representatives passed last night in Washington.

This spending bill was forged with resurgent Republicans on their best behavior. They are still a minority in the Senate in the lame-duck session. Their leaders exercised adult supervision over the wingnuts, rejecting calls for a government shutdown over immigration because Obama. They largely adhered to the budget deal cut last year on spending limits, and agreed to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year through next October (with the exception of Homeland Security because Obama), putting off real changes until they assume the majority in the new Congress next year.

But good behavior and adult supervision didn’t stop them from adding revealing signature riders and last-minute deals. Consider these the early slush of the coming Republican winter, the first returns on investment for their donors. Tucked into the 1,603-page bill to fund the government — that no legislator will read — are cankerous riders, foreshadowing what is to come. They couldn’t help themselves; this is who they are.

Eugene Robinsom: Answering Evil With Evil

The “debate” over torture is almost as grotesque as torture itself. There can be no legitimate debate about the intentional infliction of pain upon captive and defenseless human beings. The torturers and their enablers may deny it, but they know-and knew from the beginning-that what they did was obscenely wrong.

We relied on legal advice, the torturers say. We were just following orders. We believed the ends justified the means. It is nauseating to hear such pathetic excuses from those who, in the name of the United States, sanctioned or committed acts that long have been recognized as war crimes. [..]

Why would the CIA officer in charge of the program destroy all videotapes of waterboarding sessions? Why would the agency fight the Senate investigators so fiercely, at one point hacking into the committee’s computers? Why would there be such a coordinated attempt by torture’s apologists to steer the “debate” toward subsidiary questions and away from the central issue?

There is only one answer: They decided to answer evil with evil, rather than justice. And they knew it was wrong.

David Sirota: Are Charter Schools Segregating America’s Education System?

Charter schools are often promoted as a tool to address educational inequities, but a potential precedent-setting legal case launched earlier this month says the opposite. In filings with the U.S. Department of Education, two Delaware nonprofit groups allege that some of the state’s publicly funded, privately managed schools are actively resegregating the education system-and in a way that violates federal civil rights law.

The complaint, by the Delaware branch of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Community Legal Aid Society, cites data showing that more than three-quarters of Delaware’s charter schools are “racially identifiable”-a term that describes schools whose demographics are substantially different from the surrounding community.

According to the complaint, “High-performing charter schools are almost entirely racially identifiable as white” while “low-income students and students with disabilities are disproportionately relegated to failing charter schools and charter schools that are racially identifiable as African-American or Hispanic.”

On This Day In History December 13

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.a

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 13 is the 347th day of the year (348th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 18 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1642, Abel Tasman discovers New Zealand.

New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses (the North Island and the South Island), and numerous smaller islands, most notably Stewart Island/Rakiura and the Chatham Islands. The indigenous Maori language name for New Zealand is Aotearoa, commonly translated as land of the long white cloud. The Realm of New Zealand also includes the Cook Islands and Niue (self-governing but in free association); Tokelau; and the Ross Dependency (New Zealand’s territorial claim in Antarctica).

The majority of Zealand’s population is of European descent; the indigenous Maori are the largest minority. Asians and non-Maori Polynesians are also significant minority groups, especially in urban areas. The most commonly spoken language is English.

New Zealand is a developed country that ranks highly in international comparisons on many topics, including lack of corruption, high educational attainment and economic freedom. Its cities also consistently rank among the world’s most liveable.

Elizabeth II, as the Queen of New Zealand, is the country’s head of state and is represented by a Governor-General, and executive political power is exercised by the Cabinet of New Zealand.

Polynesian settlers

New Zealand is one of the most recently settled major landmasses. The first known settlers were Eastern Polynesians who, according to most researchers, arrived by canoe in about AD 1250-1300. Some researchers have suggested an earlier wave of arrivals dating to as early as AD 50-150; these people then either died out or left the islands. Over the following centuries these settlers developed into a distinct culture now known as Maori. The population was divided into iwi (tribes) and hapu (subtribes) which would cooperate, compete and sometimes fight with each other. At some point a group of Maori migrated to the Chatham Islands where they developed their distinct Moriori culture.

European explorers

The first Europeans known to have reached New Zealand were Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman and his crew in 1642. Maori killed four of the crew and no Europeans returned to New Zealand until British explorer James Cook’s voyage of 1768-71. Cook reached New Zealand in 1769 and mapped almost the entire coastline. Following Cook, New Zealand was visited by numerous European and North American whaling, sealing and trading ships. They traded European food and goods, especially metal tools and weapons, for Maori timber, food, artefacts and water. On occasion, Europeans traded goods for sex.

The potato and the musket transformed Maori agriculture and warfare, beginning in the frequently visited north then spreading southwards. The resulting Musket Wars encompassed over 600 battles between 1801 and 1840, killing 30,000-40,000 Maori, although introduced diseases would play an even greater role in the Maori population’s decline to around 40% of its pre-contact level during the 19th century. From the early 19th century, Christian missionaries began to settle New Zealand, eventually converting most of the Maori population, although their initial inroads were mainly among the more disaffected elements of society.


The Breakfast Club (Bells)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgBells seem to be a recurring theme at the holiday season.  You have Jingle Bells, Silver Bells, Winter Wonderland, and Carol of the Bells among others.

Along with Drums and Flutes they’re among mankind’s oldest instruments dating back to the Neolithic period.  What you say?  Bells before metal?  Well, yeah duh.  Haven’t you seen ceramic wind chimes?  The oldest examples are from China, ceramic ones from the Yangshao culture, metal ones start to appear at the Taosi and Erlitou sites c. 2000 BCE and were quite common by the Shang Dynasty in 1600 BCE, sometimes even being used on horse tack and dog collars.

So, jingle bells, but when most people think about bells they think about Church or Temple Bells, large heavy things made of bronze, brass, or iron (rarely silver, though smaller hand held ones are sometimes plated on the outside).  There are many details of the harmonics inherent in bells and the types of ways they can be rung in the Wikipedia article I cite or this alternate one, but what’s important to remember is that they’re primarily a percussion instrument and, while minor adjustments in the way they sound can be made by striking them in different manners, when used alone provide only rhythmic accompaniment.

Well how do you get around that limitation?  By using lots of them in different sizes tuned to different notes.  A set of bells is known as a peal and small sets of 6 or 8 are used in a style called Change Ringing.  Because it’s mathmatically based some of the combinations are distinctly, uhh… unmusical.  I mention it because it’s one of the major plot devices in Dorothy Sayers’ The Nine Tailors.

Larger peals of at least 23 Bells make a musical instrument called a Carillon which is most similar to an Organ but also closely related to the Harpsichord and Piano.  Like them you can use it to play a tune-

A number of composers have written specifically for the Carillon, among the earliest was Mathias van den Gheyn.  His 11 Preludes are among the most frequently performed works, here’s a Fugue in C Major-

Now the thing is that Carillons are even bigger, more expensive, and less portable than Organs while being equally likely to be melted down for cannons and such.  If you’re a big deal composer like Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and you’re writing a grand patriotic tribute such as the 1812 Overture AND you have the backing of the Tsar of all the Russias, then of course you can have as many Bells and Cannons you want.

More commonly the problem is that, while cannon are easily moved around (for authenticity) or sonically duplicated, it’s very difficult to move a Carillon into your Orchestra pit. A good substitute are Tubular Bells.

Today’s example is The Bells by Sergei Rachmaninoff.  It’s a choral symphony scored for a choir with Soprano, Tenor, and Baritone soloists, the standard assortment of strings- 1st & 2nd Violins, Violas, Cellos, and Double basses, Piccolo, 3 Flutes, 3 Oboes, English Horn, 3 Soprano Clarinets, Bass Clarinet, 3 Bassoons, Contra Bassoon, 6 French Horns, 3 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, Tuba, Timpani, 4 Tubular Bells, Glockenspiel, Triangle, Tambourine, Snare Drum, Cymbals, Bass Drum, Tamtam, Piano, Celesta, Harp, and Organ.

The words (in Russian translation) are taken from Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Bells and when you read it you can see the Romantic themes that would have appealed to Rachmaninoff, a late Romantic composer, 65 years later.

It is said to have been one of his two personal favorites (the other being All-Night Vigil).

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.